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Preview: Capitals at Wild

Washington looks to build on lead for first place in NHL; Minnesota 1-7-1 in past nine games

by Jessi Pierce / Correspondent

CAPITALS (49-17-8) at WILD (44-24-7)



Capitals team scope

The Washington Capitals lead the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins by three points -- with a game in hand on the Penguins -- for first place in the Metropolitan Division and the NHL (they also lead the Chicago Blackhawks by three points in the Presidents' Trophy race). The Capitals have won four straight and five of their past six (5-0-1). "You [have to] be in the moment," coach Barry Trotz said. "The moment is we got a big game against the Minnesota Wild … Every point matters, so let's just have a shift to shift focus, game to game focus and compete at a real high level." Goaltender Braden Holtby will start and could earn his 40th win for a third straight season. "It means we have success as a team," Holtby said. "[It means] we're going to be in the playoffs. It shows consistency … It's just one of those goals that you can set at the start of the year and try to get there." Forward Alex Ovechkin needs one goal to tie Johnny Bucyk (556) for 26th place on the NHL's all-time scoring list.


Wild team scope

The Wild have lost three straight, are 1-7-1 in their past nine games, and sit eight points behind the Blackhawks for first place in the Central Division and Western Conference. "We're playing the best team in the League," coach Bruce Boudreau said, "and if you look at it as 'Uh-oh we're playing the best team in the League' instead of as, 'Man, what a challenge, we're playing the best team in the League,' if you embrace that instead of shy away from it I think you usually have a better chance at success." Goaltender Devan Dubnyk will start. Dubnyk is 1-5-1 with an .875 save percentage in his past eight games. 


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Justin Williams

Brett Connolly -- Lars Eller -- Andre Burakovsky

Daniel Winnik -- Jay Beagle -- Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Taylor Chorney, Nate Schmidt, Paul Carey

Injured: None


Wild projected lineup

Charlie Coyle -- Eric Staal -- Zach Parise

Jason Zucker -- Mikko Koivu -- Mikael Granlund

Nino Niederreiter -- Martin Hanzal -- Jason Pominville

Chris Stewart -- Erik Haula -- Ryan White

Ryan Suter -- Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella -- Matt Dumba

Jonas Brodin -- Nate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Jordan Schroeder, Christian Folin

Injured: Victor Bartley (arm)


Status report

The Capitals and Wild are expected to use the same lineups from their previous games.

Who's hot

Ovechkin has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his past seven games. … Backstrom has 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) in his past seven games. … Oshie has six points (four goals, two assists) in his past four games. … Staal has 10 points (seven goals, three assists) in his past 10 games. … Parise has six points (one goal, five assists) in his past six games.

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